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Triple Time (Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize) Hardcover – August 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winner of the 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, this book is a loosely connected collection of short stories portraying the monotonous, isolated lives of American expats and Saudis living in small, isolated Saudi Arabian communities. Sanow, an American who moved to Saudi Arabi in her late teens, reflects on her experiences through the circumstances and emotions of many of her characters. In "Pioneer," a lonely little boy spends hours watching each creature that passes, attempting to amuse himself without toys or playmates; meanwhile, his frustrated mother slowly grows weary of their monotonous, lonely life and begins to crack. Ghusun and Thurayya, the two young Saudi girls in "Slow Stately Dance in Triple Time," must remain confined to their home, as per their eldest brother's command; secretly peering into the outside world, they witness as much as they can, but they know the life of inequity that awaits them, shaped by ritual and tradition as much as their desert surroundings. The remaining five stories detail the same sense of isolation through a range of intriguing characters.
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"Gorgeous and subtle, Anne Sanow's Triple Time are stories that stay with you. . . . Loss is the base note, but also a patina that softens experience--proof of what should be treasured. This is simply great storytelling." --Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“This is the kind of manuscript that reminds me why people want to become editors and agents, and why writers are willing to judge contests: you hope that among the bad manuscripts and the good ones and the very good ones there will be one that is great. This book is great.”
—Ann Patchett

“Sanow brings Saudi Arabia to life in seven windswept tales. Each character grapples with the strictures of Saudi society and the rapid changes affecting the nation, both from the outside and from within. A fascinaing glimpse into a world with which many Westerners are unfamiliar.”

“[The stories] detail a sense of isolation through a range of intriguing characters.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Fascinating . . . The temptation here is to label this an exotic and esoteric book, but it is the iconic characters that provide the fulcrum for these seven linked stories. Memorable books such as this reinforce the old saw that people are always more interesting than places.”
—ForeWord Magazine

“Impressive. A complexly rendered fresco that delves into a country undergoing explosive change tempered with expat Americans who have been there so long there may be no going back to anything else. . . The stories stand alone as a masterful telling. But there is a thread only revealed toward the end which makes them all the more powerful.”
—Provincetown Banner

“Does everything that a work of fiction set in a much-mystified country should: it provides us with an insider’s view of the many sides of the culture and forces us to query our assumptions about it, all the while presenting us with wonderful stories and characters who are the antithesis of stereotypes--vivid, fully formed, and flawed, yet filled with hope and yearning.”
—Women’s Review of Books

“Unsentimental and deftly restrained, Sanow’s book is ultimately a portrait of cross-cultural lives in transformation.”
Time Out New York

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Product Details

  • Series: Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize
  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822943808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822943808
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,095,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Sanow is the author of the story collection Triple Time, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for fiction.

Her work has been published in Dossier, Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, Malahat Review, and elsewhere. A five-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and the winner of the Nelson Algren Award for the short story from the Chicago Tribune, she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at Texas Tech University.

Visit her website ( for more information.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lanegan on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A magnificent work of fiction. It's no wonder writers Ann Patchett and Dorothy Allison each selected this collection for a recent literary prize (the 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and 2010 Winship/PEN New England, respectively). A book filled with insight, subtly created characters, and prose of startling beauty, Triple Time's most remarkable achievement, of many, might be its power of transport - the way it takes you to the sands, villages, farms, escarpments, high-rise apartments, teeming market stalls, fenced expatriate compounds, and forgotten alleys of Riyadh. The way it takes you to Saudi Arabia, principally in the 1980s (when the author, daughter of a man in the Army Corps of Engineers, lived there for two years in her late teens), but also deftly time-traveling through four preceding decades. And Sanow does all this - brings you to this land of wadis and souks, abayahs and veils - in a way that feels genuine, lived-in, generous, and fully sighted. The command of detail is astonishing; as a reader, you actually feel as if you are inside a Bedouin family's tent in the desert, or outside under the broiling sun as dates are being harvested, the air scented with them, or in a wheat field watered by pivoting sprinklers tended to by Sri Lankan laborers. The desert - whether being crossed, encroached on by expanding villages, viewed from a Riyadh balcony at sunset or blowing into the city during storms - acts throughout the stories as a source of history and hardship, an eternal reminder of loss and limitation. Do yourself a favor and read the stories in sequence - they weave strands, characters reappearing, differently aged, here in the desert, here in the city.Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've just read Anne Sanow's collection of short stories, and I have to say: They're remarkable, inspiring, evocative...nothing short of exquisite. She is a gifted writer, and a great addition to the literary scene. Couldn't recommend it more highly.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Just finished Anne Sanow’s Triple Time (twice!). A collection of short stories set in Saudi Arabia from the late 1940’s to the present, it links characters dealing with the American expat experience and with changing Saudi mores from both sides. Sanow writes from experience, as an expat herself in the 80’s, and from informed historical research (check out her interview on-line with Bob Hoover on YouTube). What it is to be a woman there, as a Saudi and as an American expat. Structural links between characters revealed over time. A brisk narrative with descriptions of the utterly foreign and exotic unobtrusively, skillfully, folded in. It’s a challenging read; you work for understanding, but it’s worth it. She respects you as a reader to “get” what she is up to. As a visual artist, I experienced her stories vividly on several levels – the immediately descriptive (a rainstorm in the desert, a date farm, goats), underlying personal motivations and expectations (to wear, or not, or how, the abaya and veil), and cultural and historical ways of being over time (to clean and shatter liquor bottles before throwing them away).
This collection won the Drue Heinz Literary Prize.
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